- L.A. Times (November 8, 2002) -



Asifa-Hollywood panel discussion focuses on publishing and distributing comics and honing craft.

GLENDALE -- Michel Gagne doesn't always encourage people to follow their dream of self-publishing their comics. "If you just want to do one book or two books, go get a publisher," he said. "You should self-publish only if you're in it for the long haul."

Gagne should know what he's talking about -- he quit his job in 1998 to found GAGNE International Press and has been writing, illustrating and publishing books and comics ever since.

He and five other comics professionals took part in a panel discussion, "Animators Do Comics," at Glendale Central Library on Wednesday night. The panel was sponsored by the Association Internationale Du Film D'Animation.

In what can be a niche career if animators want to retain control over their work, a comics artist must be his or her own public relations firm. "I answer all my e-mails, I draw for all my fans," Gagne said. "I promote this stuff because I believe in it."

Another avenue is finding people who are interested in your subject matter, even if they aren't necessarily into comics, said Milton Knight, who has been working as an animator since 1980.

"I'm not afraid of people stealing my ideas," Gagne said. "I talk as much about my book as I can. Some people keep their ideas in the closet their whole life and never do anything about it."

Audience members asked the panel for advice about honing their craft. "Find artists that you like," said Mike Kunkel, who publishes "Herobear and the Kid." "For me, Norman Rockwell is a huge influence because he only has one image, but it's almost like a mini-movie within that," Kunkel added. "I look at what he does that inspires me and how I can incorporate that into my work."

Moderator Amid Amidi, who publishes "Animation Blast," cautioned attendees that there's no step-by-step process to becoming a great artist. "Art can't be found in an instruction manual," he said. "It's a lifelong endeavor."


By Gretchen Hoffman, Glendale News-Press